Nadi Al Asdeqa (Friendship Club)
What is Nadi Al Asdeqa (Friendship Club)?
What is the problem we are addressing?
To increase the awareness and acceptance of neurodiversity, and more specifically autism. Additionally, there was a need for a program that allows children with autism to have interactions and learn from their peers in positive and purposeful learning opportunities. We started this program with the goal in mind of developing a more inclusive and accepting society.
What is our solution?
This mentorship program involves students from Renad Academy and students from Qatar Academy Sidra. Renad Academy is a Qatar Foundation school which provides education and parent support for students with mild-moderate autism. This program provides QA-Sidra students with the opportunity to be peer mentors for students from Renad Academy. Students learn about diversity and develop leadership skills while engaging in positive relationships with students that have autism. They achieve this by mentoring through kindness, respect, and integrity. For students from Renad Academy they are provided with the opportunity to develop social skills, positive relationships, and the opportunity to interact with their peers. Throughout the school year there are 6 planned outings with specific targets of skills that the peer mentors will learn, and the skills the students at Renad Academy will develop.
An overview of our impact
In the first year of implementation there were 15 peer mentors from 20 applications and 14 students from Renad Academy. In the second year there were 15 peer mentors from 55 student applications, and 12 students from Renad Academy. Due to Covid-19 this program has had to be postponed in the 20/21 school year. Additionally, this program has won a Qatar Foundation Pre-University award for “Best Collaboration Between QF Schools” in the school year of 20/21. However, the impact has not just ended with the students, as they have spread the awareness of autism to their own families and the wider school community through presentations and discussions with the larger school body. Examples of implementation
What are our future goals?
- Our students with autism at Renad Academy look forward to each outing with their peers. We would have one student who displayed challenging behaviors. However, since starting the program he became motivated and excited to come to school. Additionally, we have four students from Renad Academy who took part in the program that have now integrated into QA Sidra and attend classes throughout the day. Due to the success of the program we have developed a wider acceptance of autism which has thus resulted in greater opportunities that extend beyond the outings provided.
- For the peer mentors they have actively promoted the awareness of autism at their own school by giving presentations and discussing what they have learned with the larger school population. One student who was a peer mentor previously displayed poor attendance and at times low self-esteem. However, it was reported that since she started to be a peer mentor her attendance and confidence in herself increased, as well as her grades in school.
What are our future goals?
The future goals of this program is to increase the amount of schools that we have partnerships with within QF. This will allow more opportunities for our students at Renad Academy, and opportunities for students within QF to become Autism Ambassadors. We would also like to develop the program to include other opportunities for peer mentors through activities such as sports and extra-curricular activities.
How can someone else implement it? What do they need?
To implement this program, we have developed a sequential process of certain skills for the peer mentors to learn before each outing. These lessons have already been developed, along with accompanying materials. They can be easily adapted and applied to fit any setting. The location of the visits depicted are very specific. However, they are generic enough that could be duplicated anywhere. They consist of a visit to the classroom, grocery store visit, visit to a park, bowling alley, and pizza restaurant.